How might physical activity benefit patients with Parkinson disease?

This article has been updated


Parkinson disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive motor and nonmotor impairments. These impairments incline many patients towards a sedentary lifestyle, which has many deleterious consequences. Accumulating evidence suggests that patients with PD might benefit from physical activity and exercise in a number of ways, from general improvements in health to disease-specific effects and, potentially, disease-modifying effects (suggested by animal data). Many issues remain to be addressed, including the need to perform clinical trials to demonstrate these presumed benefits of physical activity and exercise in patients with PD. These trials must also address safety issues, such as an increased risk of falls and cardiovascular complications in more-active patients. Identifying ways to induce a sustained behavioral change, using specifically tailored programs that address potential barriers such as depression, apathy and postural instability, may lead to an improved quality of life in individuals with PD.

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Figure 1: The vicious circle of physical inactivity in PD.

Change history

  • 16 August 2011

    In the version of this article initially published online, reference 35 was cited alongside the statement "changes in physical activity did not reduce levels of fatigue." A different reference (Wiborg et al.) should have been cited at this point, which has now been added to the article. The error has been corrected for the print, HTML and PDF versions of the article.


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The research work of M. Munneke and B. R. Bloem is supported by grants from ZonMw, The Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (75020012), The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, and the National Parkinson Foundation.

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A. D. Speelman, B. P. van de Warrenburg, and G. Petzinger researched data for the article and wrote the manuscript. A. D. Speelman, B. P. van de Warrenburg, M. Munneke and B. R. Bloem made substantial contributions to discussions of the content. All authors contributed to review and/or editing of the manuscript before submission.

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Correspondence to Bastiaan R. Bloem.

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Speelman, A., van de Warrenburg, B., van Nimwegen, M. et al. How might physical activity benefit patients with Parkinson disease?. Nat Rev Neurol 7, 528–534 (2011).

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